Why Experts Talk About Symptoms, Not Stages, of Grief | Maurina-Schilling Funeral Homes

Why Experts Talk About Symptoms, Not Stages, of Grief

March 25, 2019

Have you heard of the five stages of grief? This idea of a common progression of grief stages was introduced in the late 1960s and is still popular today. Unfortunately, it is misleading. While many people experience common symptoms of grief, we don’t all follow the same neat path on a journey of mourning. Experts at funeral homes in Clark County, WI have come to realize that we should look at symptoms, not stages, of grief.

This allows for individual differences in grieving and acknowledges the meandering path grief can take. Rather than progressing through the five stages (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance) in an orderly fashion, grief takes on a variety of symptoms in all areas of a person’s life. Following are some of the most common symptoms that are perfectly normal for the grieving to experience.

Emotional Symptoms

Those who have lost a loved one often feel a full spectrum of emotions, including:

  • Anger: They are angry that their loved one is gone or angry about the circumstances of their death.
  • Despair: They feel no hope.
  • Apathy: They do not care what happens next.
  • Fear: They may fear for the wellbeing of other loved ones or themselves.
  • Guilt: They regret things they did or did not do for or with their loved one.
  • Relief: There may be relief from a painful burden of care or stress.
  • Loneliness: They miss their loved one and feel alone without them.
  • Thankfulness: They may be appreciative for the time they had with their loved one or that their loved one is now at peace.

Mental Symptoms

A significant loss can affect a person’s mental state. Common symptoms include:

  • Lack of focus: The person may have difficulty concentrating.
  • Low self-esteem: They may think poorly of themselves for how they handled or are handling the situation.
  • Dreams: They may have frequent dreams about their loved one.
  • Obsession: They may constantly think about their loss or their loved one’s death.

Physical Symptoms

The loss of a loved one can even cause physical symptoms as a person grieves and mourns. These can include:

  • Sleep: The person may be unable to sleep or may sleep too much.
  • Weight changes: The person may overeat or under-eat and experience changes in weight.
  • Fatigue: They may feel extremely tired even if well rested.
  • Tension: Their muscles may remain tense throughout the day.
  • Aches and pains: Headaches and stomach aches are common symptoms for the bereaved.
  • Illness: The stress and other factors can diminish their immune system, which leads to more frequent colds and infections.

Take Your Own Journey

If you or someone you know has lost a loved one, take comfort in the fact that no two grief journeys are exactly the same. Experts at funeral homes in Clark County, WI want you to know that you don’t have to progress predictably through stages of grief. You’ll likely experience the gamut of symptoms that will come and go in waves over time. For additional resources during your time of mourning, please feel free to contact the staff at Maurina-Schilling Funeral Homes.

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